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Thursday, 25 September 2014
Page: 7165

Arts Funding


Senator JACINTA COLLINS (Victoria) (14:59): My question is to the Minister for the Arts, Senator Brandis. Can the minister confirm he directly awarded $275,000 to the classical music organisation Melba Recordings? Can he further confirm that this decision was not subject to peer review by the Australia Council and was not subject to a funding round or an open application process?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Arts and Attorney-General) (15:00): Yes, Senator Collins, I can confirm that I made a grant to Melba Recordings. I think the figure was $250,000, but I will have that checked. I am sorry, it has just been drawn to my attention,—so let me give you a fuller answer, Senator Collins—the funding was for $275,000. The proposal was assessed by my department on the basis of a demonstrated capacity to promote Australian classical musicians, its orchestras and composers. I might tell you, Senator Collins, that a grant of a similar quantum was provided to the same organisation by the previous arts minister, Mr Garrett.

Senator Abetz interjecting


Senator JACINTA COLLINS (Victoria) (15:01): Thank you to Senator Abetz for his assistance in this matter, but I do still have a supplementary question. Can the minister confirm that he met with Melba Recordings following his appointment as the arts minister? Was the funding proposal discussed at this meeting and was the minister's friend and former Liberal minister Rod Kemp present at the meeting?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Arts and Attorney-General) (15:01): Senator Collins, I did meet with Maria Vandamme, the lady who is the principal of Melba Recordings, both before and since the election. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the funding application that she was lodging on behalf of Melba. Not only did I, and not only did Mr Peter Garrett, make decisions to fund this extremely worthy Australian classical music recording company, but so did Senator Kemp when he was minister for the arts, and former Senator Kemp takes a great interest in Melba. I attended a function to support Melba in Melbourne last year at which Senator Kemp was present.


Senator JACINTA COLLINS (Victoria) (15:02): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Minister, the question is with respect to the application process. I ask further to that question: has the minister directly awarded funding to any other arts outside of a peer review process by the Australia Council or an open application process?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Arts and Attorney-General) (15:03): Senator, you do not know much about the way arts funding works in this country, do you?

Senator Jacinta Collins interjecting

Senator BRANDIS: Well, then let me illuminate you, Senator. Most of the arts funding provided by the Australian government to various arts organisations and arts practitioners is provided through the Australia Council. But a very large proportion of the arts funding provided to arts companies and practitioners by the Australian government is not provided through the Australia Council, it is provided through a variety of programs, and in each of those cases the minister for the arts makes an assessment and ultimately a discretion is exercised by the minister for the arts. That is the way arts funding has always worked in this country.

Senator Abetz: Now that that is all cleared up, I asked that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.